Cannabasics

How to Store Cannabis the Right Way

How to correctly store your cannabis should be your most important concern after procuring it. Improperly stored cannabis risks losing potency and flavor. Even scarier,  you compromise your health when you open your stash and find it covered in a mystery white substance or it’s crumbled to dry dust. Simply tossing your bag of beautiful buds into your stash box can be like throwing good money down the drain. With just a few simple considerations, you can reopen your trove and expect your cannabis to be as fresh and potent as when you closed the lid.


Store Weed to Keep it Fresh

Fresh Cannabis = Potency & Flavor

Now that you’ve plunked down your hard earned cash for some weed, it’s important to take special care of it. Stored wrong, cannabis will break down and degrade fairly quickly.  Stored properly, marijuana can keep its flavor and potency for years to come.

For the purposes of this post, I’ll be referring to storing cured cannabis. If you’re buying your cannabis from a dispensary it should already be cured. Storing uncured marijuana has its own host of problems that are somewhat different than when storing cured cannabis.

(Cured cannabis stems will snap instead of bend when forced. If you’re storing cannabis that hasn’t finished the curing process, make sure to open your container several times a day to prevent your ‘herbal’ medicine from molding.)


When talking about how to store weed, I am referring to maintaining the integrity of what we think of when we stereotypically think of ‘weed’: dried cannabis/marijuana flower. I’ll cover all other forms of cannabis storage separately in the post.

how to store weed

What determines whether you are going to open up potent or puny green on your next smoke sesh?

Cannabis Storage Factors

  1. Handling
  2. Material
  3. Light
  4. Air
  5. Temperature
  6. Humidity

Handling

how to store weed

That quintessential baggie of weed that gets shoved into your pants pocket? That imagery makes me cringe. Dried cannabis flower should always be handled with care. Pay special attention to how the budtenders at your dispensary are handling your buds too. If they are grabbing at them with their paws, run! They should be using chopsticks, and really, so should you. Too much handling and all those precious trichomes break off.

(Without going into a botany lesson, trichomes are the little crystal looking hairs that house all the cannabinoids and terpenes – the good stuff. You want to keep them intact.)

Just know that the more your buds are manhandled, the more you are damaging it (bad handling =  less potent Cannabis).

Material

how to store weed

The most common mistake I see people make in storing weed is assuming the package it came in will be sufficient and will subsequently just use it until it’s empty. A flimsy sandwich bag isn’t going to contain the smell of weed and it will do even less to protect the buds from damage. Let’s look at popular materials to construct cannabis storage – wood, plastic, glass, metal.

  • WOOD. Although I’ve known many people that have stored their stash in some wooden relic left over from childhood, I can’t recommend this long term. Wood is too porous and will absorb the odor of your Cannabis. Worse, most wood species are likely to leech their natural oils into your cannabis. Yuck.

 

  • PLASTIC. Reasonably the worst offender to degrade your buds. Keep those baggies for your sandwiches. Plastics, soft plastics especially, contain phenols (BPA being the most recognized) that react with the terpenes in Cannabis. In other words, makes it taste nasty and possibly with poor health outcomes. I’m sure someday there will be a study on BPA’s and Cannabis. Just not yet. Soft plastics also carry a higher static charge, attracting trichomes to the material and away from your buds.

 

  • METAL. Again, nostalgia can take over and lead you to choose some old tin container to store your weed in, but resist. Metal will do a fine job protecting your buds from being crushed, so it’s not the worst option but it has its caveats. If you must go with metal, choose something in titanium as it doesn’t secrete flavors like other metals. For the love of all that is holy, DON’T use an old mint tin. Metal + mint + herb = not what you want for a good tasting hit.

 

  • GLASS. Cheap or free, comes in all shapes and sizes, glass has become a steadfast choice for dispensaries and Cannabis connoisseurs alike. Canning jars (like Mason Jars) come highly recommended for their variety of sizes can accommodate any Cannabis consumers needs. Although glass can hold a static charge like plastic, it doesn’t seem as bad and oddly I have seen some seriously trichome layered jars in my day and boy, were their owners proud. I have an array of small jars (spice jar size) that I use to store my strains separately in.

Light

how to store weed

Let there be NO light. Ultraviolet rays degrade THC and the oils in cannabis. Not that you’re likely to leave your stash on the window sill, a nice dark drawer is your better choice. If using a clear jar, wrap it up in a towel for an added insurance policy.

Air

airtight marijuana storage

Even if you are not concerned with the smell of storing cannabis, you still need airtight storage. Air exposure causes oxidation and drying of your herb. You wouldn’t leave your marijuana just sitting on a dish all day and night. Storing a small amount of cannabis in a comically large sized jar is basically the same thing. Keep your storage jar proportional to your stash.

It’s good practice to keep your daily stash stored separately than the rest of your cannabis reserves. Not only is it easier to load a bowl from a smaller container but every time you open your container you are exposing it to air, weakening the potency.

While you are at it, make sure to store your used glass elsewhere. Most people are not in the habit of cleaning their bong/spoon/pipe/rig/etc after getting lit and you know how the bowl of any of these items can smell. Don’t let the stinky resin be what your next bowl tastes like. Your dirty glass should have its own spot.

I have to mention vacuum sealers because they work in giving you airtight storage. There are also pump-style vacuum containers that work well. They look like a Tupperware style food container that has a pump that you manually pump and vacuum the air out. Before opening the lid again, there will be a release button. I have known guys who have sworn marijuana stored in vacuum sealed bags smoked is as potent years later.

Keep in mind that if you are using something like a food saver, I stress that you look for the BPA free bags and because they don’t offer anything as means of protection, the sealed bags should be handled with care as to not crush the buds and agitate the trichomes.  They work perfectly in keeping air out though.

While on the topic of plastic. I can wax on the subject of eliminating plastics from your life but I still am guilty of OFTEN using a small old film canister. When I find a mason jar that size, I will officially say sayonara to this historical relic.

Temperature

how to store cannabis

“Perfect” hiding spots of buddies from years ago include, inside a computer tower, on top of kitchen cabinets and in the base of a lamp. All of which fail in the temperature category. Cannabis keeps its aroma, flavor, and potency at cooler temperatures. Warm temperatures degrade your bud and run a higher risk of mold and bacteria growth if there is any moisture present. Most dispensaries store cannabis at 52-55°.  Be smart and store your beloved bud away from heat sources like appliances. A good goal to aim for is 60-70°. Heat rises. Don’t pick the highest spot in your house to tuck it away. Basements are great for the ideal temperature to store cannabis.

I can’t address temperature without mentioning the advent of the refrigerator and freezer. Admittedly, this is where I have a little bit of split advice. Some swear that storing buds in a jar in the refrigerator continues the cure, upping the potency. And I have friends that store cannabis from a large grow in giant jars in the freezer. For multiple years even. Talk to enough people and you will find this split of camps.

When storing cannabis, the important consideration is to protect the trichomes (source of THC). Freezing weed makes the trichomes fragile and vulnerable to break off the buds easily. Advice from the pros who do it –  when taking out of the freezer, make sure to wait until it comes to room temperature before handling. Most of us are not storing massive amounts of cannabis that we have to worry about anything beyond a few months, in which case, a cool dark place in the house will usually suffice.

In the realm of ideal temperatures is the concern for fluctuations. It’s also important to pick a spot without yo-yo-ing temperatures. This is the biggest caveat to a refrigerator, although I’ve stored it there and I still know many that do. Every time you open and close the refrigerator door, the temperature control goes right out the door too. Pun intended. Unless your container is airtight and glass, you also run a huge risk of your tasty cannabis absorbing the tastes and smells of what else is lingering in the refrigerator. Umm. Gross.

Humidity

how to store marijuana

Ahhh humidity. Not just the south’s problem. Cannabis is best when stored at 59-63% with 62% being the sweet spot. Look for commercial products made specifically to control humidity when humidity becomes an issue. C Vault is just one of the ones that use replaceable humidity packs to control humidity levels. Boveda humidity packs can be used alone in other storage vessels that you own already. Big tip: don’t let the packs come in contact with your Cannabis as it will affect the aroma and flavor when you go to smoke it.

Don’t use humidors that aren’t made specifically for Cannabis as the specifications won’t aline. Cigars humidors are meant to be kept at around 70% humidity (way too high for marijuana).  The materials humidors are made from are not Cannabis friendly either as most are made of cedar or other woods that leech oils that will alter the flavor and smell of your Cannabis.

If you find one that can accommodate your humidity level for your stash, make sure to store other tobacco products separately as tobacco will also change the flavor of what you smoke, not a big deal if all you smoke is blunts, but if you like to enjoy the individual flavor profile of Cannabis, you are going to want to store them apart from one another.  If you notice even the slightest bit of condensation on the inside of the jar or it feels dry to the touch pick up a hygrometer to help keep an eye on the moisture levels.


Storing Your Cannabis Wrong?

When dipping into your Cannabis stash, you expect it to be the same as the day you well, stashed it. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Here are a few signs that your storage method needs some attention:

  • Condensation has built up on the inside of the jar and/or lid
  • Sign/smell of mold present
  • Weed is dry or brittle to touch
  • Weak or no distinctively familiar pungent pot smell
  • Loss of color – pale in comparison to when it was put away or even brown in color instead of green

Fix Dried Out Marijuana

how to store weed

Once again, I have some conflicting advice. Any attempt at adding moisture back into dried out Cannabis can risk an overgrowth of bacteria and mold. However, when done with some caution and considerations, an introduction of some moisture could help revive old bud and bring it back to life.

Without actually touching the dried flower itself, you can add small bits that can rehydrate your dried bud. An OG favorite is a small piece of orange peel. I should warn you – it’s strong and will definitely change the flavor and aroma of your strain. Other, more benign to the palette options include a small piece of lettuce or celery to do the same job. A friend of mine swears a small square of a paper towel or cotton ball soaked with hydrogen peroxide is the trick to add moisture but with the antimicrobial property to protect your medicine from bacteria growth. I haven’t needed to try this so I can’t verify it’s effectiveness personally.


How to Store Cannabis Edibles

how to store edibles

Luckily, if you are storing your cannabis in any other form than the original cannabis flower, you don’t need to worry much about the potency degrading. THC in edibles comes from decarboxylated Marijuana. Decarboxylation merits it’s own post so all you need to know here is that once Cannabis has been decarboxylated, the THC is activated is ready to be absorbed in the body.

When storing edibles you want to make sure they are still um, edible, when you reopen their container. For food type items, the refrigerator or freezer will be your best bet. By default, edibles should generally be stored as they would if they were free of THC. If purchased at a dispensary, follow the instructions included with the packaging. Baked good edibles such as cookies freeze well. Just be sure to wrap and protect them as you would freeze regular baked goods. Candies and gummies are kept well in airtight food storage containers that are proportional to the amount you are storing. Cannabutter and other THC containing additives for use in edibles should be stored according to their base (butter in the refrigerator, etc.).  Keep other edibles not refrigerated away from heat to maintain the integrity of the edible. You would hate to open some melted THC chocolates that have separated.


How to Store Marijuana Concentrates

how to store cannabis concentrates

Concentrates are by far the easiest to store. Like edibles, you won’t have to worry about the potency degrading. What you store your concentrate in is most important here. Look for medical grade silicone. Some food grade silicones will react with your concentrate and alter the flavor so just check the label if it’s not made specifically for cannabis concentrate. Parchment paper, found in the paper section near foil works perfectly too. This is what dispensaries use. Just don’t use plain paper or tin foil. Even I admit to using tin foil in a pinch to transport small amounts of weed, but from a health perspective, it’s not the best idea.


IN CONCLUSION

DO’S

  • Store only cured cannabis
  • Store in a cool environment
  • Store in a dark place
  • Store in a humidity controlled area
  • Use an airtight container
  • Store in impermeable material like glass
  • Store used glass separately
  • Use chopsticks or handle buds with care
  • Store and label strains separately

DON’TS

  • Store wet buds
  • Keep it the bag you brought it home in
  • Store high or near heat sources
  • Store in humid conditions
  • Leave Cannabis out to air out
  • Store in erratic temperatures
  • Choose plastic unless you like an artificial taste

With just a couple extra steps or things to think about next time you are tucking away your Cannabis that you spent hard earned money on, you can rest easy it will come out the same way it went in. Now THAT’S drug abuse – allowing your Cannabis medicine to degrade unknowingly. Preserve its potency with just a few things in mind.

What do you store your Cannabis in? Do you hide it or keep it in plain sight?

Passing it to you…

~ Elizabeth

Elizabeth Frasier has been an Integrated Health and Athletic Performance Consultant for over 25 years and is the owner of The Health Cannabist where she educates how to integrate cannabis with a productive, healthy, and active lifestyle.

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